The Petal School District is one of the latest districts in Mississippi to opt in to the Mississippi Department of Education’s offer to take part in 24/7 online tutoring through Paper, which through a statewide partnership, provides free tutoring for up to 350,000 students throughout Mississippi.
The free initiative, which students in grades 3 through 12 can take advantage of by visiting Paper’s login page at https://app.paper.co/login and signing in with Google using their school email address, is currently active and ready for sign-ups. Login info also can be found on the Petal School District website at www.petalschools.com.
“We chose to provide this free service for the next two years for our families and for our students,” said Matt Dillon, superintendent of the Petal School District. “We just know that after hours, our parents can have some assistance with 24-hour academic support in English and Mathematics in grades 3 through 12.
“So it was a no-brainer for us to be able to opt in to this program, since it’s free of charge, and I think this will be a great opportunity for our families and for our students.”
Paper tutors are trained to conduct expert, academic support in a secure, chat-based platform.
Tutors are trained in the Socratic method of teaching, which is based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions. That method is made up of four key steps: eliciting relevant preconceptions, clarifying preconceptions, testing one’s own hypotheses or encountered propositions, and deciding whether to accept the hypotheses or propositions.
“It’s just whenever (students) are having some trouble in their homework and need some extra assistance, or maybe they’re studying for a test, or just need some suggestions to help guide them,” Dillon said. “They’re going to have access to these experts, so they’ll be available online to assist them through the process.”
There is no face-to-face interaction, and names and pictures are not used so as to create a safe environment for students. Teachers also have accounts, which enables them to review student activity to help provide more targeted instruction.
“Just like any good student, they’re just going to help make sure (students) are going down the right path, just giving them suggestions and tips, with the idea of the student coming up with the answer,” Dillon said. “So hopefully it’s going to be a good partnership and a good opportunity, just for those that might need an extra nudge, to get some assistance when they’re dealing with some work outside of school hours.”
Paper has partnered with state, district and site leaders in more than 30 states to meet the needs of every member of a given school system. The tutors adapt their support to meet and exceed grade-level expectations in every subject.
The company directly employs and manages all tutors to ensure that students have safe and positive experiences during every session.
“We sent out a message to our families through our messaging system to let them know how to sign up and what measures to take,” Dillon said. “We’ve already got some good feedback from parents, just thankful to have the opportunity to have access to something after hours.”